The second annual Irish Students’ Human Rights Conference was held in Dublin at the end of February. Guest speakers included human rights officials, activists, and researchers from England and Ireland, as well as UN human rights officials. Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for human rights, made a speech at the conference. Postgraduate students all over Ireland, especially those studying Law and members of the student’s human rights organisations, attended the conference.
Zhao Ming is a Falun Gong practitioner who recently obtained his MSc in Computer Science from Trinity College in Dublin. As a victim of human rights violations rescued from China, he was invited to make a speech in the conference. He also accepted an interview with NTDTV reporters.
Reporter: “What is your impression of this conference?”
Ming: “I am impressed by the big gap in human rights education between Ireland and China. University students in Ireland have grasped a clear and strong human rights ideology. There are all kinds of human rights organisations in all the universities and students are active in human rights activities. They know how to protect human rights through correct means. According to my experiences in China, the gap of human rights education was too wide. Human rights no longer exists in an ordinary Chinese person’s vocabulary. It is a minefield, because you can be regarded as an anti-government activist. Being an anti-government activist means you will be deprived of many of your human rights and always live under surveillance and be harassed frequently by the government in China. The human rights education in China is trying to eliminate any idea of protection of human rights in your mind. Apart from that, they always use the innocent as a tool to persecute others. In the Cultural Revolution, lots of young students aged less than 18 years old were recruited to persecute and torture old officials and intellectuals. After the Cultural Revolution, they did not change their tactics a great deal. They put all the hate propaganda into textbooks for the young students, and asked all young students to declare their loyalty by trampling on the object that is currently bearing the brunt from the government. You can see this clearly in their persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China right now.”
Reporter: Who is qualified to attend this human rights conference?
Ming: This conference is mainly for university students. However, the guest speakers are meticulously chosen. The mainstream human rights organisations in Ireland are invited and are joined by the authorities in human rights research and implementation areas. In particular, Mary Robinson - the ex-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, ex-President of Ireland and a Professor of Constitutional Law at Trinity College - accepted our invitation. When I was detained in China, it was Mary Robinson who negotiated my case with the Chinese Government. I am very glad that I can express my gratitude to her face to face in this precious opportunity. In a banquet of this conference, occasionally I sat next to a human rights expert, who used to work with Ms. Robinson in the UN. He told me that he was with Ms. Robinson during her three visits to China, and Ms. Robinson asked the Chinese Prime Minister and other leaders directly about my case on her every visit. This is the first time I heard these details about how she helped me.
Reporter: Could you tell us something about your speech?
Ming: I talked a lot about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and my suffering in China. Many listeners were shocked by the facts; the brutal persecution is beyond their imagination. I also told them that we are appealing to the politicians of Ireland and Europe to bring the persecution to an end, but we do not have any political aim. What we are appealing for is to stop the persecution. We do not expect the Irish Government to stop this persecution or change the Chinese Government. After 1989, many leaders in western countries denounced the Chinese government for its brutality. Does that change anything? No. We also do not expect that anyone can change in one day. But it is very important for people in the world to stand up against the persecution. If people can kill the innocent at will and people could torture others to death without taking any blame or punishment, what would the world be like? So it is the people who can stand up against the persecution who will have a beautiful future.”
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